Instagram has morphed from a social channel known simply for its stunning visuals into a veritable gold mine; if you know how to use it. With the right social media strategy, you can start selling on Instagram and turn this social media platform into one of your strongest channels yet.
With over 1 billion monthly users, high levels of engagement compared to other platforms, and a strong positive growth trajectory, Instagram is showing no signs of slowing down. The number of advertisers spending on the platform is testament to its effectiveness, in fact, ad spend for Instagram increased by a whopping 177% in Q2 last year.
Instagram still skews slightly younger, so represents a huge opportunity for those brands targeting younger users. The channel is dominated mostly by under 35s, with 63% of its users globally falling in the 18-35-year-old age range, however, its older audience base is growing every year. There are huge opportunities for all brands, given they adopt the right approach, even B2B brands. That’s because Instagram has the same advanced targeting capabilities that Facebook does and offers an opportunity to show a more human side to businesses than is appropriate on, say, Linked In.
Many businesses use Instagram as a platform for recruitment, like PWC Australia.
Other brands like Fedex have a strong Instagram presence which features a combination or original content and UGC. Fedex uses the platform to tell the stories of the SMBs and entrepreneurs it works with and to show how they help these business owners achieve success.
There is huge potential for selling on Instagram if you tweak your social media strategy accordingly to optimise for growth and funnel your sales correctly.
Optimise your social media strategy for success
First of all, if you haven’t done it yet, change your Instagram profile to a business profile. It sounds obvious, but it’s surprising how many brands haven’t yet done this. Not only does it look more professional, it will allow you to create ads and shows you insights about your profile’s performance which will become important as you start selling on Instagram.
Create a strong Instagram feed led by a clear social media strategy
An Instagram feed with a clear visual aesthetic and clearly defined content pillars looks professional. Organic and paid social should work hand in hand within your social media strategy. The stronger your organic content, ad creatives and copy, the more cost efficient your ads will be. If your ads and organic content perform well, Instagram will believe they are of high value and rates them to be more relevant than other ads. You’ll be rewarded with lower ad costs and you’ll find selling on Instagram much easier.
Start by cleaning up your Instagram feed. Your organic content on Instagram isn’t just about individual posts. Achieving a cohesive look for your feed is crucial if you want to grow your audience. Archive any posts which don’t fit the look and feel of your brand or your feed, or are no longer relevant. Ensure you have clearly defined your visual aesthetic on your Instagram feed. To ensure your images are consistent, use the same filter or editing tools for each image. For instance, your images might have a warm, golden filter, or alternatively, they may have a cool, crisp filter with high contrast.
Benefit Australia’s Instagram feed is bright, colourful and feminine, just like their branding.
In contrast, Coyo Organic’s feed has a minimal, crisp, white-based aesthetic, accented with natural greens and browns.
There are countless themes to try within your own Instagram feed, and each brand has its own unique spin on various looks. Your feed doesn’t need to stick with one theme forever, either; it may change over time, the way Rhythm Swimwear has done in the examples below. Their Instagram feed changes from tropical blues to warmer yellows, pinks, and peach tones. Either way, the content and filters still remain true to their brand.
Create a hashtag strategy
Once you have a clear visual aesthetic and are creating strong content which is relevant to your audience base, this should be underpinned by a clear hashtag strategy. Ideally, you should be using a combination of local and international hashtags. Y Use Google Trends to search for what might be trending in your industry, and then use Display Purposes to find the best hashtags for your brand. Simply type a hashtag into Display Purposes, and it will give you a long list of the best associated hashtags. Any spammy hashtags will be filtered out of the results.
Use Instagram Stories
If you are struggling to fit content into your Instagram feed which doesn’t fit with your brand at first glance, or you have behind-the-scenes content, consider using it on Instagram Stories. The daily use of Stories is outpacing Snapchat, with over 200 million people using Stories every day. Posting Stories regularly gives you another organic opportunity to reach potential customers that may not see your content on the regular Instagram feed.
Stories has powerfully storytelling capabilities, especially when you combine multiple vertical videos in a series. Brands like NAKD Fashion use the power of Stories and IGTV to showcase influencer interviews, styling tips and trend discussions, all of which promotes their product.
Use Instagram shopping
If you have physical products to sell on social, it’s crucial that you use Instagram shopping. This can take some time to set up but, once complete, with the right social media strategy and tactics, you can move units quickly and with ease.
Instagram features that you should be using are:
The brands that integrate shopping on Instagram the best are those which naturally integrate their product into lifestyle posts and tell stories with their content.
A brand that does this flawlessly is Koala Mattresses. Koala uses a combination of tactics on their Instagram profile including influencer marketing, Stories and shoppable posts, but, most importantly, they post high-quality, engaging content. Their content manages to tell engaging stories yet still highlight their product benefits, all in one go.
Start selling on Instagram
Once your profile is optimised for shopping and your organic content is strong, you’ll want to start testing Instagram ads. Instagram ads can be highly successful, depending on your industry, your ad objectives and your overall social media strategy.
Either way, to determine whether Instagram is a worthwhile channel for you, we highly recommend undertaking ad testing. The great thing about selling on Instagram is that Instagram uses the same back-end platform as Facebook, and you can use similar audience groups. Just keep in mind that they might perform slightly differently than they do on Facebook, or might not perform well at all.
Once you have defined your audiences, test different ad creatives, copy options, objectives, and placements. Some brands find that Instagram Stories work very well as a placement, whereas others find feed placements work better. You won’t know for sure until you start testing.
Tip: Try not to test ads on Instagram for the first time in periods which may be intensely competitive, like promoting chocolates around Mother’s Day. This won’t be a true reflection of ad costs.
Once you have a solid social media strategy incorporating Instagram shopping, you can start to bring all elements of your digital marketing plan together. Just using the shopping feature on Instagram alone won’t move your products; your entire social media strategy needs to be airtight and all-encompassing for you to see significant results.
It can be difficult to combine all the moving parts of your digital marketing strategy successfully in order to boost your ROI, and more difficult still to gauge what is working the most successfully. The key is to create a social media strategy that integrates all the right elements harmoniously.